Agriculture Cares

Design by Heather Noll.

This fall High Plains Journal asked readers to submit nominations for people and projects worthy of recognition for our Dec. 26 Agriculture Cares issue.

The nominations we received were outstanding, which made it difficult to pare it down to five finalists. But after careful deliberation, we are pleased to say these nominations met the spirit of a Journal philosophy that the program should recognize people who go above and beyond to improve their community, their country and their world. Here is a summary of each of the five finalists with information paraphrased by those who nominated them.

Jamison and Jordan Reed both grew up on farms and credit their upbringing for teaching them many life skills. After spending some time hiking in Yellowstone, they felt they were being called by God to travel the world and help others. They left their agriculture sales jobs behind, sold all their belongings and became missionaries traveling first to Mexico, with plans to go to Africa after the first of the year.

Natasha Mortenson has dedicated her life to educating children and adults about agriculture. In the past 16 months she has transitioned from being a longtime agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor in the Morris, Minnesota, area to being a part of the team at Riverview, a large-scale dairy and beef operation where she shares her passion of milking cows, raising beef and being a steward of the environment. She has also participated in community programs for helping needy families and established a dairy calf lease program to help 4-H’ers.

In 2009, a Randall County judge approached AgriLife Extension Agent J.D. Ragland about starting a 4-H club program for at-risk youth who were being seen in the County Commissioners’ Court. A committee of middle school principals, counselors and curriculum directors, along with two Randall County justices of the peace, joined the AgriLife Extension staff to become the Randall County 4-H Dream Leadership Advisory Committee. The program goal is to obtain and maintain a 4-H swine project, attend training meetings teaching the six pillars of character, while feeding and caring for the animal twice a day, seven days a week for up to five months and exhibiting in the Randall County Junior Livestock Show.

Farmers David Cleavinger and Bill Gruhlkey, Amarillo, Texas, hosted a community corn harvest, known as the Aww Shucks Corn Harvest, to benefit a local charity—Snack Pak 4 Kids. In two weekends the community harvested 15 tons of corn that went to feed the families of children in the Snack Pak 4 Kids program as well as Amarillo first responders.

Ruth Morton and her husband, Allen, operate a small family wheat operation near Wright, Kansas. Ruth is a community workhorse. If a project needs help, people call Ruth. In addition to working as a paraprofessional at USD 381 (Spearville, Kansas) she volunteers many hours sponsoring student activities. Ruth has been a longtime supporter of the Wright Wonder Workers 4-H Club even though she no longer has kids in 4-H and has not been a formal leader in many years. She has been a class sponsor, organizer and fund-raiser for community meals and concessions to help students.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or dbergmeier@hpj.com.

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